China amends criminal laws to include new anti-bribery provisions

On December 26, 2020, the People’s Republic of China adopted Amendment 11 to revise several portions of its Criminal Law, to include, among other things, changes to penalties for bribery offenses.  In particular, the changes largely eliminate the distinction between penalties for bribes involving government officials and penalties for commercial bribery.  

Under the amended law, a non-government official who solicits or accepts a bribe that is “relatively large” shall be sentenced to not more than three years in prison, plus a fine.  If that person solicits or accepts a bribe that is “huge” or if there is some “other serious circumstance” in connection with the bribe, that person shall be sentenced to between three and ten years in prison plus a fine.  If that person solicits or accepts a bribe that is “especially huge” or if there is “any other especially serious circumstance” in connection with the bribe, that person shall be sentenced to between ten years and life in prison, plus a fine.  

The new law does not include monetary thresholds for bribes that are "large," "huge" or "particularly huge," but China's courts have previously addressed these terms in the context of bribes paid to government officials.  In 2016, China's Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate defined “relatively large” as between 30,000 and 200,000 yuan ($4,600 - $31,000); “huge” as between 200,000 and 3 million yuan ($31,000 - $463,000); and “especially huge” as more than 3 million yuan ($463,000).  These thresholds could be revised prior to Amendment 11 becoming effective on March 1, 2021.

Amendment 11 | 2016 - Supreme Court and Procuratorate on Corruption and Bribery

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